In a message to faculty staff and students, CEO of Thomas Jefferson University, Joseph Cacchione said he was disappointed with the university’s president Dr. Mark Tykocinski for liking tweets that described gender reassignment surgery as “child mutilation” and those that questioned the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.
This follows a recent trend of people not just being punished for their own speech on social media, but for liking the speech of others.
“At his level, he is held to a higher standard and should have known better,” Cacchione wrote in the message.
The letter, which included an apology from Tykocinski, was sent one day after The Inquirer published an article about staff criticizing Tykocinski’s “like” history on Twitter.
According to the report, he “liked” about 30 tweets by journalist Alex Berenson, who is skeptical of the Covid vaccines, including one from last December that read: “Two years after their introduction, the mRNAs Covid vaccines have proven to be what we all should have expected. Another in a long line of overhyped, rushed, profit-driven Big Pharma flops with weak long-term efficacy and a lousy side effect profile.”
Tykocinski, a molecular immunologist who studied at Yale, told The Inquirer that he liked tweets to save them “to learn more about the subject matter or the particular viewpoint,” not to endorse the message or the person who has posted.
“I regret my lack of understanding of how ‘liking’ a tweet is an implied endorsement,” he added. “I also regret how my lack of understanding of the Twitter platform caused some to question my views on these complex issues.”
In the apology letter included in Cacchione’s message, Tykocinski noted that he and his family are vaccinated against Covid and does not believe the vaccines are harmful.
“I understand that my lack of knowledge of the Twitter platform created questions and unintentionally offended many,” he wrote in his apology message. “Please be assured this will be a learning experience, and I will grow as a person and professional from this misstep.”